1st Place was awared to Antonio Cembellín Prieto (a senior at Indiana University-Bloomington) at the 24th Indiana University Undergraduate Research Conference. This research competiton is offered to all IU campuses and has a 3 phase review process of a large pool of applicants each year. Cembellín is an Undergraduate Research Lab Assistant (Dr. Cheng Kao's Lab), a record breaking IU Tennis player, and majoring in Biotechnology.
Mentored in Kao's Lab, close to 2 years, Cembellín is dedicated to his research as he plans to pursue a career in biopharmaceuticals.
The abstracted he presented at the 2018 IUURC was titled "Development of Bactericidal Antimicrobial Peptides Against Multidrug-resistant Gram-negative Bacteria".
Abstract: Development of Antimicrobial Peptides Bactericidal to Multidrug-resistant Gram-negative Bacteria" Antonio Cembellin Prieto1, C. Cheng Kao1 1Departmentof Molecular & Cellular Biochemistry, College of Arts and Sciences
Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) hold promise as alternatives to antibiotics as the world enters a “Post-antibiotic era". These molecules are short chains of amino-acids ranging from 5 to 50, and act as part of the innate immune system in all life forms. One activity of some antimicrobial peptides is to prevent bacterial infections. We seek to engineer AMPs from the cathelicid in class of antimicrobial activity to be especially effective against Gram-negative bacteria, especially drug-resistant Enterobacteriaceae. In this research, I designed and characterized the properties of several variants of the AMPs for efficacy against Gramnegative bacteria and for reduced cytotoxicity in animals. Chemical modifications were added to the peptides to improve their stability. A Minimal Inhibitory Concentration (MIC) was used to quantify the concentrations of peptides needed to kill Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria. The peptides were found to have low micromolar MICs against Gram-negative bacteria and several fold higher MICs for Gram-positive bacteria. The peptides have rapid bactericidal activity against Gram-negative bacteria. The most effective peptides were able to kill Klebsiella pneumoniae that are resistant to carbapenems and colistin, two of the last resort antibiotics that are in use. These results are informative for ways to improve the efficacy of these peptides and provide lead molecules to assess efficacy in infected animals.
Mentor: C. Cheng Kao, Department of Molecular & Cellular Biochemistry, College of Arts and Sciences
Cembellín has proven intellectual abilities as well as his success in tennis court for the IU Men's Tennis team. A story by Jeremy Rosenthal illustrates Cembellín's teamwork comparison between tennis and his research.
"I think sports and research are similar in terms of teamwork," he said. "You work together to achieve your goals. The same skills you develop in communication in sports are also important in research." - Antonio Cembellín Prieto
To read the entire story by Rosenthal, "Cebellin Earns Top Honor at IU Undergraduate Research Conference", visit the link below: